Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Our Constitution -- A Brief History

Most people do not understand how great the document is that we call our Constitution. Our forefathers, the creators of this country were very exceptional and thoughtful people. Most had lived under rulers in Europe and the original colonies were ruled by England and their monarch, King George III. Our founders became well aware of things that could go awry with governing.

After the British Parliament passed laws that adversely affected the people of the 13 original colonies the leaders of the colonies decided they needed to get together to determine appropriate action to let King George III know they were unhappy with the current governing situation. Twelve of the thirteen colonies sent representatives to Philadelphia in September and October of 1774. Georgia did not send a delegate to this meeting. This meeting became known as the First Continental Congress. They adjourned with a plan to reconcile their differences with England, but stay under British rule. They did agree to boycott British goods.

Anger was still festering and it soon became apparent that the cooperation they were getting from Britain was inadequate to quell the growing anger of most of the colonists. Hostilities had already started and the colonists assembled the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the summer of 1775 to manage the war effort. This Congress wrote and issued our Declaration of Independence in 1776, essentially declaring war against England. They also wrote the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in 1781. This document is recognized as our first Constitution.

After a few years it became apparent that the weak rules of the Articles of Confederation were going to be inadequate to govern the colonies. To address these concerns a Constitutional Convention was convened in Philadelphia in 1787 to strengthen the Articles and improve governance of the colonies. Members of the Constitutional Convention took into consideration the unfair governing given to them from England and the failures of the Articles of Confederation. Many of these men had their own ideas about how a government should operate and it took a lot of compromises to get to the final document.

They wrote the Constitution, which was ratified in 1789. The Constitution consisted of a Preamble that described the purpose of the document and seven articles which described the configuration of a central government for the colonies, while leaving most of the governing responsibilities to individual colonies.

They must have done well, since there have only been 27 amendments in over 200 years. Even moreso when you think that they also ratified the Bill of Rights in 1791. The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to our Constitution. This means in over 200 years there have only been 17 changes to what the founders of this country thought the law of the land should be.

Our Constitution is the shortest and least amended of any constitution-like document in use by any country in the world. An amazing fact.

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